Friday, January 04, 2008


"This user supports armed resistance against Israeli aggression." - from the user page for Eleland, the Administrative Editor of Wikipedia who deleted the Ed O'Loughlin biography from the on line encyclopaedia. The symbol and notation has now been removed by another Wiki editor/user "sandstein" because it violates the Wikipedia code in that it could have caused offence to some readers.

Adon Emet was wandering around the internet when he came across a Wikipedia entry on Fairfax Middle East correspondent Ed O'Loughlin. He quickly discovered that it was possible for anyone to edit any article on this medium and having studied O'Loughlin's work in some detail he decided to make comment on his journalistic proclivity. When he returned the next day, his addition had been wiped off. He repeated the effort only to find that his critical reference to O'Loughlin’s work had disappeared again.

Emet did a retrospective look at the article's history and found that he was the second person to experience this phenomenon since the article's inception, nine moths previously but the other person had given up. However, unlike that person, Emet had included several references to support his criticism so he whipped off a protest to Wiki Administration. As a result, one of the administration editors, "Fluri" largely rewrote the article and said that it was now water- tight.

Emet says he was delighted that "Fluri" had taken the time to read all the references in their entirety and was even more delighted with assurances that the work was now "unlikely to need protection".

Enter "Eleland", t
he Wiki Administrative Editor who was soon disparaging the references critical of O'Loughlin calling them "Chinese whispers" by the "Israel lobby" provided through "Jewish Groups".

Emet was more than somewhat perturbed by this terminology and redoubled his efforts to substantiate the references. Eleland persisted and called in another Administrator (one Manning) and both then took part in a deletion/restoration war with him. Emet stuck to his guns and, among other things, pointed out that O’Loughlin’s critics were indeed not all Jewish, or pro-Israel for that matter (another example came from The United Australian Lebanese Movement who had taken umbrage at O'Loughlin's characterisation of their patriot Michel Aoun as a "coup leader" in his attempts to fight the Syrians.). He insisted that the words "Jewish groups" be replaced with "media monitoring groups".

Ultimately, Eleland became, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner. He put out warnings on the article on the basis that it was unbalanced. Eleland was asked to produce some references favourable to O'Loughlin but he could not do so. Then he put the O'Loughlin article up for deletion altogether but the reasons he gave were unconvincing. Eleland had a bias against Israel but what was not apparent was the strength of Eleland's apparent sympathies towards Hizbullah whose aims include the destruction of Israel and whose leadership has threatened genocide against Jews – a fact which by any normal standards of decency would have disqualified Eleland from playing any role in moderating this matter.

Eleland neither declared his position, nor did he withdraw. Instead he overruled Emet's objections on grounds that were dubious at best. It seems that on Eleland’s interpretation of Wiki rules, it was virtually impossible to cite as an authority anything other than a doctoral thesis specifically on O’Loughlin. Absent that, and any viewpoint or study of his work did not meet the standards of the online encyclopedia whose editor David Shankbone said recently in Haaretz,

"Go out and find different things. One source for knowledge is terrible."

However, in Eleland’s case, one source for knowledge was one too many.

Emet decided that enough was enough and he began to look a little more into Eleland and found that he was quite a player in many, many articles about the Arab/Israel conflict. The more he looked into Eleland, it became clear that he was dealing with Wikipedia's roving anti-Israel fixit person. Out of 50 sequential edits Eleland had been anti-Israel in all of them, each time criticising the references as being not adequate. It appeared that this was his modus operandi. Undermine the Israel case by shredding the references.

Pointing this out to Wikipedia did not result in a friendly response at all. Emet was accused of making unacceptable charges of veiled anti-Semitism (he h
ad actually complained of about it being anti-Israel). He was "blocked" and insulted and there was zero inclination to even examine Eleland's handiwork.

Then, a new comment appeared at the end of the "discussion page" for the O'Loughlin article. An anonymous person reported that there was a precedent to allegation of bias against a journalist Isabel Kershner in that her “articles about Jerusalem were biased toward Israel because of her religious beliefs". Emet went straight to the Kershner article in Wikipedia, but was amazed to find that the comment was not there. Looking through its history he found that this comment had only been introduced by an anonymous person on 24 December 2007 and then
deleted two days later (i.e. the same day as its presence had been noted in the O'Loughlin discussion). No prize for guessing who was responsible for the deletion.

Then the article on Ed O'Loughlin was deleted. Within days of the deletion Emet discovered the reference on Eleland’s user page to his support for Hizbullah but by now Eleland had triumphed and all debate on the issue was strangled. The criticisms of O'Loughlin - indeed the entire article had been deleted leaving Emet to reflect on the deviousness of the anti-Israel lobby and on these words from Kafka's, The Trial –

"There can be no doubt—"said K., quite softly, for he was elated by the breathless attention of the meeting; in that stillness a subdued hum was audible which was more exciting than the wildest applause—"there can be no doubt that behind all the actions of this court of justice, that is to say in my case, behind my arrest and today's interrogation, there is a great organization at work. An organization which not only employs corrupt warders, oafish Inspectors, and Examining Magistrates of whom the best that can be said is that they recognize their own limitations, but also has at its disposal a judicial hierarchy of high, indeed of the highest rank, with an indispensable and numerous retinue of servants, clerks, police, and other assistants, perhaps even hangmen, I do not shrink from that word. And the significance of this great organization, gentlemen? It consists in this, that innocent persons are accused of guilt, and senseless proceedings are put in motion against them..."

COMING: The deleted entry.


Anonymous said...

If the Wikipedia organization had any integrity it would re-open the entire investigation in the O'Loughlin entry. Personally however, the work of the journalist in question is so unremarkable that he really doesn't warrant any space in any encyclopaedia of note.

Anonymous said...

It is about time that Mr O'Loughlin and his employer were held responsible for their violations of journalistic integrity. Further now that the innate bias of a trusted Wikipedia editor, who admits his support of a terrorist group and yet has edited many Israel-related articles, has been uncovered, that organisation should be held to closer scrutiny also.

Anonymous said...

No real need to respond to this screed, but I should point out that I am not an admin: see

Wilbur Post said...

Whatever the above was, it's like most of what Wikipedia seems to post on O'Loughlin - gone with the wind.

Anonymous said...